A Short (and useless!) Treatise On Creating Emotionally Charged Prints
A Finely crafted Infrared photograph that creates an emotional link with its viewer is a rare thing. They are easily shown off in the electronic marketplace on line in places, well like here for instance! BUT a real work of art is something that you can touch, both with your eyes as well as with your hands.
So why is this a useless attempt to convey printing knowledge? Some knowledge requires that you earn it… This was never more true than in the case of the fine art print. I can remember as if it was yesterday how frustrated I was when I was learning these skills. So, for me to assume that I could possibly pass these skills on to you in something as short as this post would be arrogant on my part! What I do hope to accomplish here is to give you a series of shortcuts to help speed you on your way!
The photographic greats throughout history all state that the art of the photograph is only half done in the camera, the rest is in the darkroom and through extension our computers and printers. The art of the print is a very difficult skill to acquire. It took me years to master the processes and artistic skills in order to create the emotionally charged print.
There is a distinct difference between printing color and B&W. Now we throw in Infrared which can be a combination of the two and we double the complexity of the creative process. The process can be so complicated that one can spend hours or even days on printing and reprinting the image and never being satisfied with the results. So it only makes sense to try to simplify as much as possible in order to cut down on the hundreds of variables that affect print quality.
Here is a short list of things to consider in this simplification…
- ALWAYS color calibrate your computer monitor.
- Setup the Photoshop color system selecting Adobe RGB 1998 profile and setting the appropriate color variables.
- ALWAYS disable the print driver color controls.
- ALWAYS enable Photoshop color controls for printing.
- ALWAYS set the Adobe RGB 1998 profile IN YOUR CAMERA.
- Unless you have actual paper ICC profiles for your printer use the manufacturers papers.
- When working in Photoshop, enable SOFT PROOFING so that you can see what you are going to print as you are editing your image and making changes!
- If you want SPECTACULAR prints purchase a RIP (Raster Image Processor) like Image Print from Color Byte. This is especially true for B&W but also applies to Color. A RIP will allow you to totally bypass the print driver on your computer. It changes how the print heads lay down ink, the dither patterns and much more. It gives you THOUSANDS of ICC profiles for hundreds of different paper manufacturers! The list goes on and on but the biggest thing is it gives PERFECT monochromatic prints. Your B&W’s have to be seen to be believed!
- Purchase a quality printer (it will pay for itself its first year!) I recommend EPSON.
- ALWAYS use manufacturer inks. NEVER refill your tanks.
- ALWAYS clean your printer each and every day with a print head cleaning.
OK, this is just a short list of considerations for successful results, but there is one more…. ATTACH YOURSELF to an accomplished and established fine art printer who had done and understands all of the above!
As stated, I use EPSON equipment. I ALWAYS match my printers with a Colorbyte RIP in order to get the best quality prints on thousands of papers in both color and B&W. Currently, I have the Epson 7800 printer with the K3 ink set running Image Print V7 RIP. I have about 15 types of print media on hand that I am good with printing on, including…
- Mat Canvas, Roll
- Heavy textured fine art water color paper, Sheets
- Heavy Glossy Paper, Roll
- Heavy Mat Paper, Roll & Sheet
- Heavy Metallic Glossy Paper, Roll & Sheet
- Aluminum Metal Sheets
- Silk fabric
- 2 sided mat paper for book binding, Sheets
- Vinyl, Roll
I have several others, but these are the mainstay of my work to date.
I take great satisfaction and enjoyment in my printing and work very hard at it. I would love to show you my print work but that is an impossibility in an electronic format! I tend to produce three types of prints, Canvas Gallery Wraps onto which I paint with acrylics to give them a depth (Infrared, B&W and Color) in various sizes, three sizes of framed prints and three sizes of matted prints. The matted are the main works that walk out the door, but the gallery wraps are very popular. The framed works are mostly B&W with a small number of color images thrown in but recently I have been doing Faux Color and B&W Infrared’s. These are the true works of art. I spend more time on these than all the others combined. A finely crafted B&W and B&W Infrared image is something to behold! For these images I ALWAYS choose my most emotionally charged images (2 posts ago) that have real depth. I will usually use a heavy gloss paper or the new metallic gloss paper which just has to be seen to be believed! I do print Infrared Faux and B&W on canvas but they do NOT have the same impact as they do on Gloss or Metallic!
The key to a successful print is the same as for a successful photograph. you need contrasting elements both in light/shadows as well as in image elements (subjects and colors). If you can master this art of contrasts (please read my previous post on emotional images) then you will have become a master at your art!
With the emotionally charged Infrared images that I have been able to generate it is no wonder as to why they have become much more popular than my color work! And the key to that is the printing process…..
Remember, Camera time is only have of the photographic work flow!